One of the more ambitious and potentially high-payoff initiatives launched this year to vivify the U.S. manufacturing sector is the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), announced by President Obama in June. Members of the AMP team have been holding regional fact finding meetings over the past six months and will shape the initiative into its final working form in 2012.
Industry leaders we have spoken to who have attended the regional meetings indicate that a great deal of relevant information has been gathered, particularly from participants representing government and academia. But they also commented that more feedback from members of the manufacturing industry itself would be a welcome addition.
Time to Act is Now
If you are a manufacturer – either small- to medium-sized, or one of the major players; or a hardware or software vendor or ISV serving the manufacturing community – your input is needed. And if you have not yet communicated your concerns and suggestions to AMP, you are running out of time.
The last of four regional meetings will be held next week. But you can make use of a direct pipeline into AMP via the initiative’s web site.
And you want to do it now. With the holidays just about here there is only a small window to make your voice heard.
You may wish to address your comments to one or more of the four work streams identified by the AMP Steering Committee.
- Technology development – Identifying emerging technologies with transformative potential to be commercialized and deployed in the U.S. Advanced manufacturing techniques falls into this category.
- Policies – As the name implies, this stream will make recommendations to the Administration on research and policy measures designed to improve research collaboration and commercialization.
- Education and workforce development – Identifying actions that will support a robust supply of talented individuals available to companies investing in advanced manufacturing activities in the U.S.
- Shared facilities and infrastructure – Finding out how to speed up the development and transfer of technology to support the needs of small- to medium-sized manufacturers – companies that generally do not have access to HPC or other digital manufacturing techniques. Cloud computing should figure heavily here.
Comments from Two Industry Insiders
Here’s the perspective of a manufacturing industry leader who has been following AMP’s progress, including participating in the regional meetings.
Bob Graybill, whose high-profile roles have included heading the DARPA High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) program and working with USC-ISI and the Council on Competitiveness, is now CEO and president of start-up Nimbis Services.
Regarding AMP, Graybill comments, "The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership national initiative represents a unique opportunity to create an innovative competitive manufacturing ecosystem. As was highlighted at the recent AMP regional meeting in Boston, there are a number of creative examples of how universities, regional partners and manufacturing companies with entrepreneurial spirit can provide manufacturing leadership.”
He adds, “The challenge remains that the large majority of small- and medium-sized manufacturing company's needs – representing a very diverse spectrum of manufacturing domains – may require some alternative solutions and innovative outreach initiatives. It is important to not only learn from the success stories, but to also get input from those manufacturers that are really struggling in the current economic and global environment with very little margin to try alternate approaches."
David Rich, Microsoft Director, Windows Azure Business Development, also attended the Boston regional AMP meeting and concurs with Graybill’s assessment. In addition, he attended a meeting on the topic the following day that was convened by Massachusetts’s state leaders and focused on the region’s specific manufacturing industry concerns.
“At this meeting a number of smaller manufacturer’s showed up and were very vocal about the problems they face and how local government can give them a hand,” he says. “Most of them said that the biggest hurdle they face is finding skilled workers who can handle advanced manufacturing technologies – the jobs are there, but they can’t find anyone to fill them.”
Rich added that cloud computing will play a major role in bringing advanced manufacturing to smaller companies, especially by relieving them of the burden of upfront capital expenses and building an in-house cadre of IT experts who understand HPC technology.
Rich, Graybill, and many others concerned with the state of manufacturing in the U.S. – for example, the National Center for Manufacturing Science (a Digital Manufacturing Report partner) – urge you to contact AMP and let your voice be heard.
This is a great opportunity to help jump start this country’s manufacturing sector, create jobs, and build your business in the bargain – don’t miss it.